Governor DeSantis Signs Bill To End Permanent Alimony In Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis recently passed a law doing away with permanent alimony and making major changes to the way alimony works in Florida. The passing of the bill was not without controversy. The First Wives Advocacy Group, a group of former spouses who say their lives will be upended without alimony payments, vigorously advocated against the passage of the measure. Efforts to do away with permanent alimony were contentious over the past decade. Those in favor of abandoning permanent alimony argued that they would have to work well beyond the point that they had hoped to retire.
How will alimony work moving forward?
The new bill allows those seeking to retire to request modifications to their alimony agreement. There is now a process for petitioning the court to make these changes as a petitioner approaches retirement. A judge is now allowed to reduce or terminate alimony based on a number of factors. These include the age and health of the alimony payer and the typical retirement age for their profession. By contrast, the new bill considers the economic impact a reduction in alimony payments would have on the individual receiving alimony.
Under the new plan, those who have been married for three years or less would not be entitled to alimony payments. Those married 20 years or longer would be eligible for alimony for up to 75% of the length of their marriage. The new rules also allow alimony payers to amend an alimony agreement if they are supported by another person. Critics of the bill argued that the terminology was vague enough to include roommates who help cover the cost of living.
What concerns remain over the new bill?
Those who are receiving permanent alimony negotiated the right to receive alimony payments in exchange for other assets. Alimony payments are negotiated. A spouse may seek to make a regular monthly payment in lieu of losing equity in a valuable piece of property or an asset. Even retirement funds can be protected when a spouse offers alimony. The new rules could mean that those receiving alimony negotiated themselves into poverty.
A version of the bill that specifically seemed to nullify prior alimony agreements was vetoed in 2022 on the basis that it would retroactively apply to existing alimony agreements. DeSantis called this provision “unconstitutional” when he vetoed the 2022 version of the bill. The 2023 bill appears not to impact existing alimony agreements and would only apply to new agreements reached after this bill’s passage in 2023.
There are numerous concerns over how the bill will work, but right now, lawmakers are saying that agreements reached prior to the passage of the bill are safe and not subject to the new rules. The new rules would only apply to divorce decrees reached after June of 2023.
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